05 June 2003 | Robin Parker
US purchasers could have to commit to socially responsible procurement under plans being drawn up by the Institute for Supply Management.
Paul Novak, the ISM's chief executive, told SM that guidelines on six key areas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) were awaiting approval by the institute's board.
The principles will require purchasers to promote responsible behaviour in their organisation and among suppliers in the areas of the environment, ethics, diversity, safety, human rights and the community.
The ISM is also developing an audit system for companies to assess their approach to CSR.
The institute's commission on social responsibility, set up nine months ago, could make the CSR principles a required part of ISM membership and certification.
Novak said he hoped the initiative would help to trigger a move away from the ISM's educational roots to a more proactive support mechanism for purchasing professionals.
"In every area of business, we want to raise the bar in terms of ethically responsible behaviour," he said.
"The only challenge to making these guidelines mandatory is if a purchaser's company has developed its own standards, which could put the individual in a difficult position. But I can't believe any company would seriously differ from our goal for the profession."
Cynthia Trainer, a purchasing analyst for the City of Tacoma and a member of the ISM's ethical standards committee, added: "As the public and private sectors become increasingly decentralised, it is becoming more important to get the word out on what is proper ethical conduct."